Koalas face death from bulldozers

February 19, 2015

Australia has a poor record on native animal extinctions. We know that native forest is essential habitat for koalas and other wildlife. Yet, knowing how important the preservation of sufficient, suitable habitat is to sustaining endangered wildlife, we still continue to destroy vital native vegetation and old growth forest.

The dire situation for koalas around Ballina, NSW, is in the spotlight again. A critical colony of more than 200 koalas is at risk of extinction in the region if Stage 10 of the Pacific Highway upgrade goes ahead.

As these threatened animals are such a special icon of our nation, it is quite incredible to believe that this could be happening. The koalas face local extinction from bulldozers that will be moving in to clear their habitat for the road upgrade.

The NSW Government recently gave the green light to the route, despite it running straight through the Blackwall Range Wildlife Corridor. This is a wildlife hotspot, home to many endangered species, including this nationally-significant colony of koalas, who are vital for the survival of coastal koalas.

The area of the highway upgrade is also home to a population of about 100 rare Long-nosed Potoroos, as well as many other vulnerable native species. The route will also affect sites of important Aboriginal cultural heritage, including historic scar trees that bear the marks of bark being cut out to make canoes, containers and shields.
There are a number of alternative routes for the highway that don't impact on the koalas or the Blackwall Range. The upgrade of the highway is important but should not impact upon this important natural area. The route of the Pacific Highway upgrade needs to be reassessed.

We must do all we can to have the Blackwall Range protected, by ensuring that the highway upgrade avoids this known biodiversity hotspot. We need to pressure the NSW and federal governments to find an alternative route for the highway.

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